The courage to be “Different”

April 22, 2008 -

Throughout the history of the game, all the greatest players have had “swing quirks” that might not be ordinarily taught. The commonality, of all great players, though, is that they do the same thing, every time (and this is the lesson that we can all learn from them). They understand their weaknesses but play to their strengths. We thought it might be interesting to come up with examine some of the “quirks” of these players and why they do/did what they do.

JACK NICKLAUS: Had a “flying right elbow”. Ideally, at the top of your backswing, you want to have your right elbow (if you are a R/Handed player) pointing at the ground. Nicklaus’s right elbow pointed outwards at the top of his swing. This helped him, fade the ball (about 10 yards) and he played pretty much all his shots, that way. Worked pretty well for him.

SAM SNEAD: Hit every shot with a closed stance (aiming to the right and “pulling” the ball back on line.

LEE TREVINO: Arguably, the best “ball striker” of all time. When Trevino first came on the scene in the late 60’s, his “out to in” swing path was the source of much ridicule (nobody else had ever swung like that). Although, most teachers today agree that, although he had a very exaggerated version of the swing plane, that that is the correct path of the club.

TODAY’S MODERN PLAYERS:

JIM FURYK: Trevino on steroids. Furyk almost completes a “figure 8” in his swing but (a British sportswriter once described his swing as “an octopus swinging in a phone booth”) is also the most accurate player on Tour. Same swing, every time.

LORENA OCHOA: Her head “bobs” up and down at impact. Primarily this is because she is a wee little lady, who creates enormous swing speed with her club. Her “head bob” stabilizes her body at impact (doesn’t allow her to get her body too far in front of the ball).

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Annika’s head moves laterally forward during her forward swing (the opposite of Ochoa). She does this to keep her body turning towards her target. Curtis Strange had a very similar move, except that his head shifted laterally (about 8 inches) during his backswing, as well as his follow through.

Which other players impress you with their “quirkiness”?

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